Currently schools are focusing more on functional attributes which are parity

Currently schools are focusing more on functional

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proposition. Currently schools are focusing more on functional attributes – which are ‘parity points’ rather than ‘differentiators’, but they need to uncover the intangible attributes on which they can position themselves. In a global market where functionally similar products and services are available from a wide range of suppliers, the ‘brand name’ has become an important dif- ferentiating tool, as it offers promise of value and quality to consumers (Kartono & Rao, 2008 ). Strong brands help consumers cut through the proliferation of choices available in product and service categories. The goal of brand building in educational institutions is to create awareness in the minds of target audiences and focus on the intersection of the institution’s core values and the expectations of target audience. Branding is about finding the sweet spot between what the institution is and what their audience wants (Sevier & Sickler, 2004 ). Parameswaran and Glowacka ( 1995 ) in their study of university image conclude that higher education institutions need to maintain or develop a distinct image to create an advantage in an increasingly competi- tive market. It is this image that will impact students’ willingness to apply to that institution for enrolment or for other research and developmental activities. The image portrayed by the institution of higher education plays a critical role in the attitudes of the institution’s publics toward that institution (Yavas & Shemwell, 1996 ). In today’s complex and highly competitive marketplace, universities and colleges are turning to branding as a solution in dealing with global challenges. Topor ( 2005 ) suggests that the Chivas Regal Effect is another important reason for branding business schools and to build reputation capital, which can be done by enhancing brand equity and goodwill. A college or university with large stock of reputation capital actually gains a competitive advantage against rivals because reputation enables it to charge a premium. Brand equity measures the value of the brand, and it is of particular rel- evance for consumer choice. Although the concept has been extensively 176 A. Aggarwal Sharma et al. Downloaded by [Sapna Popli] at 08:08 20 December 2013
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researched in the context of physical products, less attention has been devoted to its understanding in the service sector, especially in higher education (Mourad, Ennew, & Kortam, 2010 ). This is particularly so in the area of business school branding, despite it being high on credence and experience qualities (Palacio, Meneses, & Perez, 2002 ; Saeed & Ehsan, 2010 ). Business education provides an interesting and important context for research as business schools across the world are becoming more market oriented. With this background, this paper proposes a framework of familiarity–per- ception–preference–choice for measuring business school brand equity and improve the brand image among students as stakeholders. The framework includes determinants relating to brand awareness (familiarity) and brand
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